We tend to think of technology as a feature of life; as something that’s often just a part of the scenery. In fact, we usually notice technology only when it breaks. Hell hath no fury like someone who’s Wifi is acting up, or who has just gotten the “blue screen of death.”
Technology and science are usually seen as the domain of people who study that sort of thing. Don’t you know what internet port you’re using? Don’t you know what TCP/IP protocol is? What’s the difference between IPv4 and IPv6? We don’t teach those things in school, even though you’re using every one of the things I just described to read this page right now. We for some reason consider Calculus to be something that is essential to learn in school but learning the basics of how the internet works or how to troubleshoot computer issues is seen as less essential.
Don’t Be a Dummy, Learn Technology
This landscape is changing slowly, in part due to the success of simple microcomputers like the Raspberry Pi. Devices like these make it easier to learn the basics of computing, troubleshooting, and basic code. But if you asked someone how to protect their internet connection from a man in the middle attack or set up a VPN, chances are they wouldn’t be able to do it.
“Our biggest mistake is being a technology-driven society, while at the same time being totally technologically illiterate.”
The origin of this quote is not known for sure, but it’s often attributed to novelist and futurist Isaac Asimov. And it rings so true today. The study of tech is seen as something that only the Geek Squad at Best Buy should pursue or the Apple Care worker who is fixing your iPhone. But think about how crazy our culture is. We don’t bat an eye at learning 3-4 years of advanced mathematics in high school (that you will in all likelihood never use) but don’t think a tech class is needed. But let’s think about that a minute.
Unless you’re an engineer, how many times have you used the Trigonometry class you took in high school? On the other hand, how many times has your computer broken down or your phone frozen, and you had to spend an hour on hold with customer support to fix the problem? Not every problem is a simple fix, but many issues can be fixed with a simple working knowledge of computing. And when I say simple, I mean it’s literally a forum search away.
Technology Suffers From a Lack of Perspective
I’m not bashing the importance of math and overall general knowledge. I am suggesting that our priorities are becoming misplaced. Our society is becoming more and more tech-driven, and fewer and fewer people are choosing to take the time to study how the tech works. Instead they leave that to the tech support workers of the world.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather learn how to do basic fixes and learn some troubleshooting work myself instead of waiting an hour on hold for someone else to tell me “Did you try turning it off and back on again?” (IT Crowd joke there). Don’t get left behind! Learn how to do some work for yourself. A great place to start are forums on your device. If you want to get a little more advanced, try the free CodeCademy to learn some basic coding. I think you’ll find you can fix way more things yourself than you thought!